L to R: Me and Linz
She actually turned 30 about three weeks ago, but her birthday celebration was this weekend in Vegas. Lindsay is one of my favorite people in the world. I met her my freshman year at San Diego State in the dorms. It turns out we grew up in neighboring home towns. We quickly became friends and stayed friends ever since.
In college we took many memorable road trips to Vegas, and some of my favorite memories in that city have Lindsay in them.
Lindsay is the kind of friend you can always count on. She is supportive, caring, generous and fun. I was lucky to have her as a bridesmaid in my wedding and even though she lives in LA now, she came down to almost every single one of my fund raising events when I was walking the Breast Cancer 3 Day.
When she invited me to her birthday weekend in Las Vegas, it was a no-brainer! I got to Vegas on Saturday morning around 11 a.m. and left Sunday at 3:30. It was a short trip, but it was big on fun! We spent much of the day at the pool and then rallied at night to go to Studio 54 at the MGM Grand, where we used to go in every time we went to Vegas in college (Linz has VIP hook-ups there).
As long as I have a say, Lindsay will always be my friend. It was so great to see her and have fun in one of our favorite cities in America – VEGAS!
This was a cool picture I took from the foot bridge that connects the MGM Grand and the New York New York hotels. I’ll write more about the little adventure later.
We’ve visited many of the Temecula valley wineries; however, the one that keeps us coming back is Longshadow Ranch. Yesterday we went on our seventh annual Grape Escape – this time in honor of our friend Megan who is moving to England and celebrating her birthday.
We made stops at two other wineries along the trail, but Longshadow Ranch still stood out as my favorite. Why? The comfort of the venue and the animals. And the wine is good too.
Longshadow Ranch is the place we take a break and picnic. The staff is amenable to large groups and the tastings are done mostly outside where there is plenty of room. What’s more, the entire winery is filled with animals, including horses, goats and dogs.
In the evenings sometimes and on special occasions, the winery offers live music on its stage. This place is definitely worth a stop during any visit to Temecula.
For years I’ve been coming to Merced and driving past the Applegate Zoo. For years Scott has been telling me how the Applegate Zoo is terrible and showcases nothing more than a Lhasa Apso in its natural environment (i.e. a couch). I’ve never met a zoo I didn’t like, and I like to go to zoos every where I go – I’ve even been to the zoo in Barcelona.
Last time I saw my in-laws I mentioned to them how I’ve been dying to go to the Applegate Zoo for seven years. They echoed Scott’s sentiments about the lack of exotic animals at the zoo, but agreed to take me regardless. Today we visited the zoo. It was fantastic … even the resident Mercedians thought so. Granted, it was a small zoo, but it was well-kept and a pure delight. As with most of my animal postings, this story is best told in pictures. Enjoy.
Applegate Zoo Entry
Very affordable entry
Hard to see, but a peacock with fully fanned-out tail feathers
This swan loved the shower
Lunch time for the monkeys
As we were chatting with the man at the front desk of our hotel, he offered to give us a coupon for two free wine tastings at Fess Parker Winery. Not people to turn down “free,” we decided to make a pit stop on our way out.
The Fess Parker Winery is owned by the late Fess Parker, who played Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone in the Disney movies of the 1950’s and ’60’s, and his family. The virtues that made these characters lives, and probably Fess Parker’s as well, are amazingly apparent when you enter the winery.
First, there are coon-skin hats everywhere … and not just for people, but for wine bottles too. That was a first for me to see a fur on a wine bottle. The winery is vast and very out-door driven. The wine-tasting building is surrounding by a giant grassy area where families share picnic food, play games and even romp with their dogs.
As you drive into the winery it is impossible to miss the beautiful rose-bush-lined fences leading to the gate and building entrance. Inside the winery, you get a woodsy, log cabin feel that is punctuated by the enormous stone fireplace in the back.
The tasting room offers 6 varietals per tasting, all of which were unique and good in their own way.
This concludes my week of posting on the Santa Ynez Valley. I hope you enjoyed the journey as much as we did.
A trip to Santa Ynez valley is not complete without at least one stop at a winery to taste the local faire. Being that we ran the half marathon in the morning and only had 1.5 hours of sleep the night before due to a very late arrival in the valley, we had to go back to our hotel post-race for a nap.
In the back tasting room at Curtis Winery
Once we woke up, prettied up and got on the road, it was pushing 5 o’clock. Something you should know about the Santa Ynez valley is that there aren’t many places open past dark. Rookie mistake on our part.
We hit the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail a little too late and the first two places we stopped at were no longer pouring. Fortunately, when we arrived at Curtis Winery, they were open until 5:30 p.m. and happily let us in.
Curtis Winery is a beautifully modern establishment with a warm and cozy feel. When you purchase a tasting, you don’t chose what you want to try, they automatically go down the list of six excellent options, starting with three whites.
The winery is known for its Rhône-style wines grown right in the Santa Ynez Valley. While I thoroughly enjoyed all of the tastes, my first favorite part of the winery was the wine pourer Peter’s adorable little dog who greeted guests, gave them kisses and followed his dad no matter where he went.
My second favorite part were the chocolate truffles for sale that complimented the red wines perfectly.
With that many wineries on the trail, it is really becomes the little things that make a difference. Curtis Winery is a fantastic stop on any tour.